Government / Politics

Primary Election 2020: SBC Supervisor District 2

Five face off to represent San Juan Bautista and Aromas.
Frank Barragan. Photo provided.
Frank Barragan. Photo provided.
Valerie Egland. Photo provided.
Valerie Egland. Photo provided.
Kollin Kosmicki. Photo provided.
Kollin Kosmicki. Photo provided.

Five candidates are vying for the San Benito County District 2 supervisorial seat being vacated by Supervisor Anthony Botelho: Frank Barragan, Valerie Egland, John Freeman, Kollin Kosmicki and Wayne Norton. The district includes San Juan Bautista and parts of Aromas and Hollister. 


Frank Barragan, 43, is a financial controller/business resource manager. He has spent his life in San Benito County except for 11 years he spent obtaining a BS in business accounting, masters in business administration and a law degree. 

Why are you running?

My wife and I grew up in San Benito County and we share a similar story that our grandparents moved to San Benito County to raise their families. We are now raising a fourth generation in this beautiful county. I have been blessed with the ability to come back to San Benito County to raise my family and to have had a very successful career in finance and accounting. I believe that there is no higher calling than to serve. Whether it is defending your country or your community, the duty and honor of giving back to my community and protecting it for our residents and families is a priority. 

I want to continue the traditions, preserve our heritage and community, while making sure our county is progressing, keeping up with the cost of living and providing a safe place to raise and educate our children. I have been able to, with the help of my family, go to college earning degrees in accounting, a masters in business and a law degree. I want all of our children to be able to have the same opportunities, to have a strong education so they can succeed and chase down their dreams. If those dreams lead them back to San Benito County, I want to make sure there is a job and home waiting for them to start the next generation of San Benito residents.  

What issues are most important to your district? How do you intend to handle them?

District 2 is a unique district because it encompasses three distinct areas in our county. The district covers parts of Hollister, all of San Juan, and Aromas. In San Juan Bautista many residents complain about water issues and the quality of roads. In Hollister, the main concern is Highways 25 and 156. In Aromas the main issue is thoughtful growth which takes into account water issues, traffic issues, and maintaining a rural and clean environment. I have been in conversation with people in Aromas about the littering on the roads and the county does nothing to help.

Are you for or against Measure K? Please explain why.

I am 100% for referendums including the Measure K referendum. Referendums make elected officials accountable. Our supervisors voted 5-0 to allow the nodes because they saw the opportunity for economic development and the possibility of new revenue which the county needs to provide services. However, our county’s General Plan must be sensitive to environmental impacts associated with growth. Decisions related to growth must be motivated by what you want the county to look and to feel like 20 or 40 years from now, and not motivated only by revenue. Now it is in the hands of the voters to decide if the county is going to continue to pursue economic development off Highway 101.

What kind of commercial uses along Highway 101 do you feel would most benefit the county?

We need to address what we want this county to look like and feel like in 40 years. Creating industrial zones and commercial zones that will have the most benefit for the county while alleviating traffic and negative visual impacts must be sought after with public input and independent studies. We must also make sure that growth and tourism have the burden to build the proper traffic infrastructure that also provides for alternative modes of transportation like bikes paths and trains. The county along with our community members can work together to make sure we have the proper commercial industry that preserves our heritage and community.   

How does your life outside of politics influence what you offer as a candidate?

Besides being a husband, father and family man, I have worked in the accounting and finance field for over 20 years. I have also worked with the state controller’s office as an auditor, in private industry as a financial controller, and currently work in business development. I think raising a family in this era is a financial accomplishment for any parent and makes me well qualified. My educational experiences and business experience also allow me to bring those experiences to the table.

How will you communicate with your constituents?

Social media is obviously the buzz phrase today. But, the old fashion work of walking, meeting, greeting and talking to my district residents is still the most effective way to understand your district. As my dad said, if you want to know a city, take a taxi ride and ask that driver what is going on—face-to-face is the best form of communication.


Valerie Egland, 74, is a San Benito County Planning Commissioner. She also serves on the Council of San Benito County Governments bicycle/pedestrian committee and was on the San Benito County Parks and Recreation Commission for three years. Egland is a former art business owner who has lived in the county for 60 years. 

Why are you running?

I have loved serving San Benito County District 2. I am very qualified, and I see the need for more women in all areas, adding diversity, perspective and voice.   

What issues are most important to your district?  How do you intend to handle them?

After roads, water, housing, jobs and traffic, we have a crisis of consensus across the county created by our hugely diverse community. Economic vitality is both District 2 and our whole county’s biggest issue. We must build up our business base if we are to be a self-help county, capable of generating sufficient income to serve our community needs, offer employment and future transportation options to reduce traffic.

Our current agriculture, technology and manufacturing businesses need our continued support and assistance to flourish. But, “From the Pajaro to the Pinnacles, we have tourist appeal.” Small businesses, from hotels to shuttles, have the potential to bring in millions of dollars annually. As we grow our quality of life with parks and trails, we become a draw for high tech businesses because that is where their employees want to live and recreate. It is with that attitude, “Your business wants to be here,” that we will approach businesses we clearly want to accommodate. 

Are you for or against Measure K? Please explain why.

Yes, I am for Measure K. Measure K affirms the C-3 zoning which promotes the commercial tourist opportunities we have along our Highway 101 corridor. We have not had success in bringing travelers in to our historic San Juan Bautista in numbers needed to thrive. Traffic congestion along that corridor has frustrated travelers. By offering respite, information and services at the C-3 commercial zones, promoting SBC products, and giving travelers space to stay, they will adventure into San Benito County; a first step to paying for all our needed services, better roads, and parks.

What kind of commercial uses along Highway 101 do you feel would most benefit the county?

C-3 zoning allows for limited acreage for a development’s commercial footprint while remaining acreage would be park-like in setting. Within that area, traveler/tourist services and accommodations that complement the character of SBC are expected. Each commercial ‘node’ is to feature SBC products, and provide direction and information about our county’s historic places, trails and parks. All of these aspects will benefit the county.

How does your life outside of politics influence what you offer as a candidate?

Outside of politics I focus on connecting people to opportunities. My deep view into “park-onomics” and healthy living is reflected in my decision-making. Hindsight provides the insight for foresight. I take the long view of our evolving county community. My optimism overcomes any fear of changes I see coming, because we must have courage to seek opportunities that are out there. 

How will you communicate with your constituents?

Normal communications between supervisors and constituents take place through county email, letters, or personal phone and email communications. I am open to suggestions from District 2 residents for an open meeting in any neighborhood, should there be an issue that needs scrutiny.  


John Freeman, 67, has served on the San Juan Bautista City Council since being elected in 2016. Prior to becoming a consultant in hazardous waste compliance issues, he worked as an industrial water treatment chemist and in hazardous waste control services. Freeman has lived in San Juan Bautista since 2002.

Why are you running?

During my time on the San Juan Bautista City Council, I led the fight to fix the San Juan Bautista high nitrate water problem, I helped develop the new parks Master Plan and I championed bringing Monterey Bay Community Power to San Benito County. I also found new sources of income so we can improve our infrastructure, including our streets, sewer and water systems. I fought hard to obtain effective management, making good use of our limited resources and I have been effective.

I want to be supervisor because our county is going to have to be tackling some very tough issues that are affecting our county, in the areas of economic development and the high cost of living and doing our part in dealing with the climate crisis.

I have the most experience out of any other candidate running for this position and I have a track record of leadership that results in solving some of our toughest local problems and concerns. I want to bring my experience to the Board of Supervisors and take on these issues.

What issues are most important to your district? How do you intend to handle them?

Financial Health of San Benito County: I want to increase tax revenue without raising taxes on the hardworking residents of the county. This will allow the county to pay its employees competitive wages and increase staffing to heights that provide a better level of service to our residents. For the sake of public safety, we need to be able to provide more deputy sheriffs and firefighters.

Fix the roads and improve our transportation system: I want to include expanding Highways 25 and 156, repairing potholes and planning for future traffic. We also need to include bike lanes and hiking trails into the planning and building process. 

Business and Economic Development: I want to attract new businesses and industries into the county to increase our tax base, benefiting the environment by cutting down of the residential commuting to Silicon Valley and lessening out-of-county traffic. 

Bring high speed fiber optic internet access: As a member of the Central Coast Broadband Consortium we are in the process of obtaining a grant to do this. This action will allow us to attract high tech companies with well-paying jobs.  

Are you for or against Measure K? Please explain why.

This measure preserves the scenic open space by tightly controlling commercial development to those small areas and gives the county the opportunity to collect much-needed sales tax and hotel tax from visitors passing through our county. 

What kind of commercial uses along Highway 101 do you feel would most benefit the county?

Agri-eco-cultural tourism, recreational tourism hotels, gas stations, EV charging stations, restaurants and coffee shops will entice visitors to take a break and spend money in our county. Measure K gives county residents the ability to tightly control how each development looks, avoiding ugly sprawl, while also making sure there is adequate infrastructure for commercial development.

This measure was crafted to give us the tools to control planning and increase county revenue. To block this measure is to bring in uncontrolled development or possible eventual lawsuits over property rights, which will only drain our coffers. 

How does your life outside of politics influence what you offer as a candidate?

While in private business I worked for an environmental services company which recycled solvents used in the high tech industries. I am proud of my dedication to the environment through my work to help clean up the environment.   

I have a love of being outdoors, and hiking and biking throughout California. This influences me to strive to save our environment from overuse or pollution. I also have a sense of social justice which drives me to be inclusive to all of the residents in San Benito County. 

How will you communicate with your constituents?

I intend to use newsletters, Facebook, tweets, Instagram, email, phone, forums, workshops, town halls, etc., to keep the public informed and involved in the policy process at the county level. I value government transparency and I will have an open-door policy, actively seeking out members of the community to fully understand the kitchen-table issues that are affecting residents every day. I want to assist residents to navigate the red tape of county government and understand its scope of functions.


Kollin Kosmicki, 40, is a journalist, founder of and high school football coach. He has lived in the county for 15 years and spent over a decade as editor of the Hollister Free Lance.

Why are you running? 

We’re at a critical crossroads and need a leader with bold ideas and no attachments to the Good Old Boy Network. Our county can either continue repeating the same mistakes—irresponsible growth without adequate infrastructure fueled by greedy developers and their friends—or choose a new direction and a leader who represents all residents. 

What issues are most important in your district? How do you intend to handle them? 

The top county issues in District 2 are rapid growth, inadequate roads and a lack of local jobs. 

My conversations with countless district residents reaffirmed to me that our large commuter base is fed up with increased highway congestion caused by rapid growth and lacking local employment. 

I’m proposing the county implement a 1% annual cap on new single-family, market-rate home approvals—with exemptions for affordable categories and multifamily housing—at least until we finish expanding Highway 25.

We already have thousands of newly approved homes on the way without adequate infrastructure to support existing ones. It’s crucial we get our priorities straight and halt this trend. 

At the top of my project priority list is making sure Highways 156 and 25 are expanded as soon as possible. County leaders must set aggressive milestones for the 25 expansion and streamline planning where possible. We also need to work closely with Santa Clara County and our state representatives to alleviate red tape from Caltrans.

Highway expansion is crucial if we want to get serious about job creation. Also on the economic development front, I’m proposing we establish more business-friendly government policies—such as streamlined planning and relaxed building fees for employers creating new jobs—to attract and retain companies. Additionally, I support continued revitalization of the Economic Development Corporation, strengthening downtowns, refining the tourism plan’s focus, and investing in high-speed broadband infrastructure. 

Particular to San Juan Bautista, poor water quality is an alarming concern for everyone. I’ve proposed the county, San Benito County Water District and San Juan Bautista explore alternative options for water supply such as a pipeline from the Hollister West Hills Treatment Plant to San Juan. 

Are you for or against Measure K? Please explain why.

I am the only candidate in the race opposed to Measure K. It would allow nearly a million square feet of new development on Highway 101—including 120 market-rate houses—and worsen existing traffic gridlock. 

Beyond that, the measure is marred by a severely flawed planning process with lacking outreach to the Aromas and San Juan Bautista residents most impacted by the proposed commercial nodes, which are located in District 2. 

Yes, there was a steering committee for the 2015-2035 General Plan, but no public outreach specific to the nodes. How many everyday residents are following the General Plan process? The answer is, almost none. Residents can’t give input if they don’t know the issue is up for consideration.

There should have been town hall forums and outreach to inform the wider public about this clearly controversial consideration. In the recent rezoning approval process—which became a rubber stamp in light of the General Plan designation—it’s disappointing there wasn’t at least an effort to compromise with opponents.

Instead of commercial developments along Highway 101, what other kinds of revenue should the county pursue?

I’m a major advocate for pro-business government policies that will help grow our economy and create good jobs for local residents. My comprehensive economic development plan would send a message that San Benito County is laying the welcome mat for new industry. 

Some aspects of my plan include: 

  • Incentives for companies committed to moving or expanding here to create new jobs—such as streamlined planning processes and relaxed building fees.
  • Gradually increasing support—tied to performance metrics—for the Economic Development Corporation of San Benito County so it has the resources to adequately recruit and retain industry here.
  • Strengthening our tourism efforts with an emphasis on branding San Benito County as “Home of Pinnacles National Park.” 
  • Executing concepts already in our general plan such as business incubators in partnership with Gavilan College; developing and publicizing a real estate database of available industrial and commercial properties; better economic and transportation cooperation with neighboring counties, and development of a stronger business retention program.

We do need commercial growth in San Benito County as well. But it must occur in the right places—not in sprawling leapfrog fashion like the four prospective shopping centers along 101 that are geographically isolated from existing services—and we absolutely must properly involve the impacted public. 

How does your life outside of politics influence what you offer as a candidate?

Above all, I’m a dedicated family man—with a wife and 11-year-old boy—who sees community progress from the perspective of someone who wants a bright future here for younger generations. Professionally, I spent more than 12 years at the Hollister Free Lance—a decade-plus as editor—holding officials accountable and learning the functions of local government. As Anzar High School’s head football coach, regularly mentoring local youth has allowed me to better understand young residents. 

How will you communicate with your constituents?

I expect to be the most transparent supervisor in San Benito County’s history. I’ve walked door-to-door in the district since the summer learning about constituents’ perspectives. If elected, I would make a habit of walking the district and making myself accessible to stay on top of residents’ needs. 

Additionally, I would be available anytime by cell phone (831-207-9279), email or social media. I would regularly inform residents about upcoming meetings, agenda items and other issues of concern.

As for meetings, I have made the unprecedented commitment to hold town hall forums before every regular Board of Supervisors meeting to ensure residents have the ability to talk face-to-face on issues before the votes.


Wayne Norton, 72, is in his second term as a director of the Aromas Water District. Before retirement, Norton was a long-term care ombudsman, site manager at Anzar High School and Hollister Free Lance reporter and managing editor. He has lived in Aromas for 35 years. 

Why are you running?

San Benito County is at a crossroads. Our leaders must do a better job of preparing us for the challenges of the future. I will bring positive change needed to ensure a bright future for all of us. I am a community-focused person and have been serving San Benito County in public and private roles for 35 years.

My work as a newspaper reporter and managing editor taught me to seek the truth. My work as a high school administrator and ombudsman developed a deep need to ensure the welfare of the people in our community, including our most vulnerable.

Becoming county supervisor gives me the opportunity to use my professional and district-specific experience to continue to help our community. It also allows me to focus on specific issues that are important to us all. Most importantly, it gives me the opportunity to be a part of the solutions to the difficult challenges ahead.

What issues are most important to your district? How do you intend to handle them?

District 2 is diverse in geography and interests. The top issues are roads, including Highway 25, economic development to bring good-paying local jobs, and the availability of affordable housing.

I was a leader of the Measure G campaign to develop resources to repair our roads and improve our highways. More needs to be done. I have developed state and regional partnerships needed to supplement local Measure G funds.

I have watched my adult children struggle to find housing they can afford despite having good jobs. I will support balanced development with an emphasis on housing that is affordable for our workforce.

I love San Benito County and our open spaces. I am a strong supporter of preserving our bountiful agriculture industry and our “right to farm” ordinances.

I will direct resources to build a business-friendly attitude that will encourage local companies to expand and out-of-county businesses to relocate to San Benito County. I believe that good roads, solid public works infrastructure, and quality broadband are essential recruiting tools.

We can only rebuild our infrastructure if we have new sources of revenue. We are a small county. Our total population is less than half of the city of Salinas and many of us are frustrated by the lack of services. We must consider non-tax options for revenue, while also respecting our unique culture and heritage.

Are you for or against Measure K? Please explain why.

I am supporting Measure K, as are all current and previous Supervisors—including the most vocal critics of growth. I believe the C-3 zoning ordinance that is at the center of the issue is a strong planning tool that will ensure the county can effectively regulate commercial development in limited locations along Highway 101. The C-3 zoning is superior to the current C-1 and C-2 alternatives.

My support of Measure K is rooted in my deep concern for our community. We need the resources to hire more sheriff’s deputies and firefighters, expand road repair operations, stop the exodus of county employees, provide needed public health personnel, mental health services and much more. 

The defeat of Measure K will result in reduced oversight of commercial development on Highway 101, which would limit our ability to maintain the rural character of the area and protect our open space. 

What kind of commercial uses along Highway 101 do you feel would most benefit the county?

The best options are businesses that directly appeal to motorists passing through our county—restaurants, motels, fueling stations. The sales taxes generated by these businesses would boost the funds available for road repair and highway safety improvements. The transient occupancy tax from motels would go directly to the county general fund to support services residents need and deserve.

How does your life outside of politics influence what you offer as a candidate?

I am an active citizen. I participate in a broad spectrum of community activities, and am proud that community service is now a family tradition. My partner, Leslie Austin, works to increase the use of sustainable energy throughout the Monterey Bay region. My daughter, Casey Powers, is a social worker supporting the homeless. She is also an elected trustee with the Aromas-San Juan Unified School District. My son-in-law, Tim Powers, is a public school teacher and San Benito County Parks Commissioner.

And, I have three beautiful granddaughters that fill me with joy.

I have a full life.

How will you communicate with your constituents?

I have a deep belief in transparency and that public officials should be accessible to the citizens. I have included my personal cell phone number on all of my campaign material. I will continue this accessibility if elected. I will have regular constituent meetings in Aromas/San Juan Bautista and Hollister.


Noe Magaña

Noe Magaña is BenitoLink Co-Editor and Content Manager. He joined BenitoLink as reporter intern and was soon brought on staff as a BenitoLink reporter. He also experiments with videography and photography. He is a San Benito High School alumnus with a bachelor's in journalism from San Jose State and a Liberal Arts Associate's Degree from Gavilan College. Noe also attended San Jose City College and was the managing editor for the City College Times, the school's newspaper. He was a reporter and later a copy editor for San Jose State's Spartan Daily. He is a USC Center for Health Journalism 2020 California Fellow.